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Lead-Zinc 2010 Edited by: A. Siegmund, L. Centomo, C. Geenen, N. Piret, G. Richards and R.

Stephens TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society), 2010

THE VERSATILITY OF OUTOTECS AUSMELT PROCESS FOR LEAD PRODUCTION Stefanie Creedy, Markus Reuter, Stephen Hughes, Gavin Swayn, Ross Andrews and Robert Matusewicz Outotec Ausmelt Pty Ltd 12 Kitchen Road Dandenong, 3175, Victoria, Australia (correspondence: ABSTRACT Outotecs Ausmelt Process is well suited to applications where existing technologies are unable to meet the high standards set by todays energy and eco-conscious world. With the depletion of high grade primary lead sources, lead producers are looking for new technologies to process lower grade concentrates and secondary (post-consumer) materials, usually within the same vessel to save on capital and operating costs. This paper will discuss the development and options available with Outotecs Ausmelt Process for lead smelting including smaller scale lead projects by providing low-cost, automated and environmentally responsible smelting solutions.


INTRODUCTION Increasing lead demand has been largely driven by growth in the automotive industries in the developing world, especially China and India. With this growing abundance of spent lead acid batteries and the depletion of high grade primary lead resources, there have been an increasing number of secondary lead recycling projects. Currently secondary (recycled) lead accounts for around 60% of the global lead production per annum [1]. With the inherent limitations of the traditional sinter oxidation blast furnace processing route producers are seeking to adopt modern technologies to process low grade concentrates and secondary (postconsumer) materials, more often now within the same operation. Outotecs Ausmelt Process is well suited to applications where existing technologies are unable to meet the increasing stringent hygiene and environmental regulations. Offering flexible, low cost environmentally friendly direct smelting, Outotecs Ausmelt Process is considered a leader within the industry. To capture small scale lead-acid battery recycling projects Outotec Ausmelt has been working with Gravita Exim to provide low cost standardized plants. Outotecs Ausmelt Process has gained widespread commercial acceptance in non-ferrous smelting and recycling applications. It is highly flexible and efficient, with the capacity to process primary and secondary feeds using a variety of fuels, to deliver high recoveries and excellent environmental performance. The versatility of the Ausmelt Process allows furnaces to be customized to suit individual applications and utilize alternative or existing technologies. Outotecs Ausmelt Process commercial lead and zinc experience includes numerous primary and secondary materials such as concentrates, batteries, residues and slags. There are currently a total of 17 Ausmelt furnaces currently processing lead & zinc containing materials/residues, with an additional 11 furnaces under design, construction or commissioning phase. OUTOTECS AUSMELT PROCESS The Ausmelt Process uses top submerged lancing for direct injection of fuel and oxygen enriched air into a molten slag bath with the intense agitation achieved promoting rapid reaction kinetics due to the optimal mass and heat transfer processes. Operation with a well sealed vessel under a negative pressure ensures minimal fugitive dust and gas emissions and higher offgas SO2 concentrations. Pertinent to the processing of lead and zinc materials is the ability to control the bath oxidation potential, providing better control of lead and zinc distribution between the metal, gas and slag phases. Bath turbulence and mixing inherent to the technology also provides the ability to fume volatile species such as lead, zinc and arsenic. Figure 1 provides a schematic flowsheet of the Ausmelt Three Stage Lead Process. This flowsheet consists of smelting, slag reduction and slag fuming stages, however, usually the stages only consist of smelting and slag reduction with a fuming stage only necessary if zinc recovery is required. The chemistry and thermodynamics of these stages are discussed in various publications [2] and will not be repeated here. Some of the main advantages of Outotecs Ausmelt Process include the ability to: produce secondary benign products (recycling/bleeding of fume which may contain harmful components, or further products i.e. zinc, antimony, arsenic, etc.); use concentrates as reductant (dependent on feed composition); use oxygen enrichment to achieve higher throughputs and secondary production (sulphuric acid/gypsum);


utilize various fuel options depending on availability and economics (natural gas, fuel coal, light/heavy fuel oil, bunker coal or plastics); allow flexibility of feeds to enable economic capture of the regional market via the use of primary and secondary feeds or mixes thereof, and utilize a single furnace for all processing stages.

Figure 1 - A typical 3 stage Ausmelt Process lead plant This general arrangement can be used for complete plant configurations, or each of the stages can be utilized individually and integrated into existing plant operations. The process flowsheet and furnace design are tailored depending on the clients requirements, feeds, feed compositions, throughput and/or existing facilities. Flexibility to customize the design according to the individual applications and production requirements is due to the ability to: operate in batch, semi-continuous, continuous or campaigned modes; integrate with alternative technologies and existing facilities to increase throughput and/or modernize an operation; apply modular design for the implementation of phased upgrades or expansions; process a wide range of primary and secondary feeds; and control the thermodynamics and process chemistry as required by various feed types. For projects up to 100,000 tpa of lead, each stage (smelt, slag reduction and fuming if necessary) can be conducted using a single furnace. These stages are operated in either a batch or campaign mode depending on the production requirements and economics. To increase production, smelting, slag reduction and fuming stages are divided amongst multiple furnaces or integrated with alternative technologies or existing equipment. These projects are usually operated with campaigns or in continuous mode. Alternative technologies can also be employed for the reduction or fuming stages, if these are available or preferred (e.g. Outotecs Kaldo technology). Across a range of non-ferrous projects Ausmelt furnaces have been coupled with blast furnaces,


electric settling furnaces, QSL, shaft furnaces, Peirce Smith converters, box fumers and numerous hydrometallurgical operations depending on specific client needs. COMMERCIAL LEAD OPERATIONS USING OUTOTECS AUSMELT PROCESS The flexibility of the Ausmelt Process is illustrated by the diverse range of lead projects in operation or currently under design or construction. Outotecs Ausmelt lead projects are summarized in Table 1. Table 1 - Outotecs Ausmelt Process Lead Projects Operations Product Smelting Slag Fuming Reduction Concentrates, Ausmelt N/A N/A Pb Bullion, High Battery Scrap Grade Slag Polymetallic Pb Ausmelt N/A Pb Bullion, Discard Concentrates Slag Feed Material Concentrates, Sludge Concentrates, Secondaries, Fume High Pb Slag Ausmelt Ausmelt QSL Furnace QSL Furnace Ausmelt Ausmelt Ausmelt Ausmelt N/A N/A N/A ISF N/A Pb Bullion, Discard Slag Pb Bullion, Discard Slag Pb Bullion, Pb/Zn Fume, Discard Slag Pb, Pb/Zn Fume, Discard Slag Pb, Pb/Zn Fume, Discard Slag Pb Fume, Pb/Zn Fume and/or Zn Fume Pb Bullion, Zn Fume, Discard Slag Pb Bullion, Slag Pb Bullion, Pb/Zn Fume, Discard Slag Pb Bullion, Zn Fume, Discard Slag Pb Bullion, Zn Fume, Discard Slag Crude Pb, Low Grade Slag


Mode of Operation Continuous Batch

Weser Metall GmbH Namibia Custom Smelters** HZL Korea Zinc

Batch Continuous Campaigns Continuous

(2 furnaces)

Korea Zinc


Korea Zinc (2 plants) Korea Zinc (3 Plants) Young Poong Corp. (2 Plants) YTCL * Carat* Votorantim Metais* Intertrust*

Pb Tailings Leach Residues Leach Residues Pb Residues Zn Residues Concentrates Pb Polymetallic Concentrates Concentrates, Residues, Battery Scrap Concentrates, Battery Scrap, Residues, Slag Concentrates, Battery Paste, Slimes Concentrates Residues

Ausmelt Ausmelt Ausmelt

(2 furnaces)

(2 furnaces)

(2 furnaces)

Ausmelt Ausmelt Electric Furnace Ausmelt N/A N/A

Batch Continuous Batch



Continuous Batch Batch





Slag Fumer (existing) Fumer


*Currently under design or construction. **In 2008 the Ausmelt furnace was modified to process polymetallic copper concentrates and reverts.


3 Stage Batch Process Yunnan Tin Corporation (YTCL) Lead Smelter, China (2010) The YTCL flowsheet uses a three stage smelt/slag reduction/fuming batch processes conducted in a single Ausmelt furnace. Processing 190,000 tpa of lead concentrate the plant will produce lead bullion, a zinc rich fume and a discardable slag. The process flowsheet is depicted in Figure 1 as shown previously. 3 Stage Campaign Process Intertrust Holding, Bulgaria (TBA) As part of a modernization of Intertrusts existing facilities this project involves the installation of two Ausmelt furnaces as depicted by Figure 2. Processing 125,000 tpa of lead concentrates, battery scrap, slag and residues the smelting and reduction/fuming stages will be conducted in separate furnaces.

Figure 2 - Process flowsheet for Intertrust project


2 Stage Batch Process Hindustan Zinc Limited, HZL-India (2005), Votorantim Metais-Brazil (TBA) and HCHM-China (TBA), KCM SA Bulgaria (TBA) and Namibia Custom Smelters-Namibia (1996) HZL, Votorantim and HCHM are all two stage smelt/slag reduction batch processes conducted in a single Ausmelt furnace. Originally designed as a 3 stage batch process, HZL are no longer conducting the fuming stage, processing lead concentrate (ca. 85,000 tpa) to produce lead bullion and a zinc containing slag. The Votorantim Metais plant will process a blend of lead concentrates, lead-bearing residues, battery scrap and specified recycles to produce 75,000 tpa of refined lead. HCHM will process lead concentrates, matte and sulphate residues to produce 66,000 tpa of bullion. KCM SA is also be a three stage process however only the smelt and slag reduction stages will be conducted in the Ausmelt furnace with an existing slag fumer being utilized for the fuming stage. This plant will process lead concentrates, battery paste and slimes to produce 65,000 tpa of refined lead. The process flowsheet is depicted in Figure 3.

Figure 3 - KCM SA process flowsheet


Namibia Custom Smelters was processing polymetallic lead concentrates, however, in 2008 due to lack of concentrates the plant was modified to process copper concentrates and revert materials [3]. Continuous Fuming & Campaign Processes Korea Zinc, South Korea (1992, 2000, 2001) Korea Zinc (KZ) employs numerous Ausmelt furnaces at the fully integrated Zinc and Lead plant in Onsan, South Korea. As Korea Zinc adopted the technology for the treatment of zinc residues, the need for matching lead capacity arose due to their desire to treat the associated lead containing residues. This included installation of an Ausmelt furnace in unison with the QSL furnace for treating lead materials [4]. The desire to increase zinc production then resulted in installation of another Ausmelt furnace to treat lead residues from the zinc plant and this helped boost overall lead production at the site [5]. The innovative integrated flowsheet pioneered by Dr. Choi of Korea Zinc is illustrated in Figure 4.
Residue Pb Concentrates Pb Secondaries Residues Ag Cons High Pb Slag

Fume Leaching Plant

Zn/Pb Fume Ag Conc

Zn Solution



Pb Ausmelt Plant

Pb Residue

Zn Plant


Cu Speiss Cu Dross

Cu Removal


Cu Ausmelt Plant Ausmelt Zn Fumers Ausmelt Residue Fumers Ausmelt QSL Fumers
Leached Residue

Pb Refinery BULLION

Pb Slime


Cu Speiss

Zn & By products

Discard Slag



Bi, Ag, Au

Figure 4 - Integrated flowsheet at the Korea Zinc Onsan facility Korea Zinc now utilize 12 Ausmelt furnaces at the Onsan operation. A further 4 Ausmelt furnaces are employed at the Korea Zinc subsidiary Young Poong Corporation, to process a further 100,000 tpa of zinc residues and 120,000 tpa of lead residues also arising from hydrometallurgical operations. Continuous Smelt Weser Metall GmbH, Germany (1996) and Carat, Russia (TBA) Weser Metall GmbH (Recyclex SA - formally Metaleurop SA), continuously smelt concentrates and battery scrap in a single Ausmelt furnace to produce over 120,000 tpa of lead bullion and a high grade slag (Figure 5). It was deemed more economical to operate the Ausmelt furnace under a continuous smelt and sell the high lead content slag rather than conduct a slag reduction stage in a batch or campaign mode to produce a


discardable slag. Weser Metall GmbH is currently operating at more than 40% above design capacity treating more than 200,000 tpa of feed materials with a high varying secondary fraction of above 60% [6, 7].

Figure 5 - Weser Metall GmbH (Recylex SA) process flowsheet The Carat lead plant in Khakassia, Russia is based on the integration of the Ausmelt process with an electric furnace for slag reduction and cleaning. The feed for this operation will be 170,000 tpa of lead concentrates and battery paste which will be continuously smelted in an Ausmelt furnace to produce lead bullion. The lead rich slag also produced will be cleaned in an electric furnace producing a lean-antimony alloy and secondary slag containing 1.0-1.5 Pb and 7-9% Zn [8]. The process flowsheet is depicted in Figure 6.

Figure 6 - Process flowsheet for Carat project [8] As with any design linking different unit operations, the optimized flowsheet requires careful consideration of the process thermodynamics and slag chemistry as shown in Figure 7. Outotecs Ausmelt process allows flexibility in adjusting the oxygen partial pressure and fluxing within the Ausmelt furnace to


control key process parameters including slag phases present, liquidus temperature, viscosity and slag conductivity.

Figure 7 - The lead recovery (decreases with increasing pO2 as shown) and % of slag liquid as a function of a generalized secondary lead feed containing metal, oxides and sulphates, slag composition and oxygen partial pressure as generated by Factsage at 1100oC

SMALL SCALE LEAD BATTERY RECYCLING PROJECTS A large proportion of secondary lead production is achieved by low capacity processing operations (less than 30,000 tpa of Pb). These small scale fragmented operations have evolved due to restrictions placed on the transportation and trade of battery scrap. Small scale lead battery recycling plants traditionally use Short Rotary Furnaces (SRF) which have limited production capacity of typically 10-15 ktpa of crude lead per furnace. SRF operate with sodium carbonate (soda) slags which are considered an environmentally hazardous waste due to the reactivity and leachability of residual elements within the slag. These issues have been strong drivers for more efficient, cleaner and higher capacity technologies. Lead acid batteries contain low levels of traditional impurities and gangue components. Silica contained in the glass separators and calcium or antimony present in the lead-alloy grids are the main impurity compounds. This consistency in secondary lead battery feed has allowed the Outotec Ausmelt Process to deviate from the conventional approach of customizing each Ausmelt furnace design to offering off the shelf technology packages. By standardizing the Ausmelt furnace design and offering low cost engineering and


equipment supply through Gravita Exim, Outotec has enabled small scale lead recycling to be done economically with environmentally friendly technology. Outotecs Ausmelt-Gravita lead processing facilities incorporate conventional feed preparation and delivery, offgas and fume capture and product handling equipment. The main difference is the replacement of the rotary or blast furnace with an Ausmelt furnace. Targeted toward small scale operations with an annual production capacity of 15-30 ktpa, the Ausmelt process offers a low cost environmentally friendly processing route. The Ausmelt-Gravita Lead Processing Facility illustrated in Figure 8 utilizes smelting and slag cleaning campaigns. Campaigns are viable for this process because only a relatively small quantity of slag is produced due to the low levels of gangue materials in battery feeds and low fluxing requirement. The smelting campaign is a continuous process conducted under mildly reducing conditions. A lead bullion product is produced with the slag stockpiled for further treatment. The slag cleaning campaign is conducted as a two-stage batch process. A small volume of bullion is produced with the majority of the lead reporting to an oxide fume during the second stage reduction. The fume is recycled to the smelting campaign with the final discardable slag containing 0.5-1.0 wt% Pb. This process has been discussed in detail previously [9].

Figure 8 - Process flowsheet for Outotec Ausmelt Small Scale Lead Smelting Process

ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE With increasingly stringent environmental and workplace health and safety regulations the lead industry is looking for cleaner and more environmentally friendly processing alternatives. Outotecs Ausmelt Process exceeds these environmental requirements whilst offering substantial increases in productivity and throughput.


Commonly installed to replace old technologies as part of the modernization of existing operations, operations the Ausmelt Process is considered the Best Available T Technology since it: produces a environmentally friendly discardable slag; is characterized by a High energy efficiency efficiency; incorporates a Fully sealed furnace ensures effective capture of SO2 and dust emissions; emissions facilitates generation of High strength SO2 off-gas can be sent to an acid plant for sulphuric acid acilitates production; can reduce CO2 emissions by utilizing natural gas as a fuel instead of coal; is Capable of treating toxic wastes and heavy metal residues; and has the Ability to process up to 100% secondary materials.

Weser Metall Nordenham smelter is a prime example of how the Ausmelt Process can be applied to dramatically improve a sites environmental credentials. This modernization project, which involved replacing the existing sinter plant/blast furnace process with an Ausmelt furnace reduced SO2 and heavy metal emissions furnace, by 94-99% [7]. Weser Metall have been able to maintain these low SO2 and dust emission levels despite l increasing production to more than 40% above the design capacity [ [6]. 12000 10000 SO2 Emissions (t/y) 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 1995 2006 2008 1995 2006 2008 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 Dust Emissions (kg/y)

SO2 Emissions

Dust Emissions

Figure 9 - Emissions at Weser Metall before and after the installation of an Ausmelt furnace

CONCLUSION The versatility, economics and environmental benefits of Outotecs Ausmelt Process combine to ensure the Outotec Ausmelt Process is considered an attractive alternative to existing lead processing technologies. By customizing the design and operation Ausmelt furnaces are easily integrated into traditional operation, flowsheets or augment existing technologies. This flexibility to tailor designs according to individual client requirements has been demonstrated by the diversity of Outotecs Ausmelt lead projects.


With the ever increasing push towards processing of secondary lead materials, Outotec and Gravita Exim have developed a technology package dedicated to the recycling of lead-acid batteries. These complete, small scale lead battery recycling plants are an environmentally friendly, cost competitive processing option for projects with a capacity of 15-30 ktpa. REFERENCES 1. 2. International Lead and Zinc Study Group ( A. Kaye, S. Hughes, R. Matusewicz and M.A. Reuter, Ausmelt Technology; Developments in Lead and Zinc Processing, Proceedings Zinc and Lead Metallurgy, 47th Annual Conference of Metallurgists of CIM, Winnipeg, Canada, Ed. L. Centomo, M. Collins, J. Harlamovs, J. Lui, Met Soc, COM2008, 24-27th August 2008, Canada, pp. 63-75. G.P. Swayn and E.N. Mounsey, Ausmelt Technology Versatility: The design and operation of the Ausmelt lead smelter and the subsequent development of the unit to successfully produce copper matte at Tsumeb Smelter, Namibia, GDMB Conference, 58th Meeting of The Copper Committee, September 24-25, 1998, Alpbach, Austria, 16p. (preprint). M.B. Kim, W.S. Lee and Y.H. Lee, QSL Lead Fuming Process Using an Ausmelt Furnace, Eds. J.E. Dutrizac, J.A. Gonzalez, D.M. Henke, S.E. James, A.H.-J. Siegmund (eds.); Proceedings of the LeadZinc 2000 Symposium, part of the TMS Fall Extraction & Process Metallurgy Meeting, 22-25th October 2000 (Pittsburgh, USA), pp. 331-344. C.Y. Choi, The Role of Lead Smelting at Korea Zinc, Yazawa International Symposium, Metallurgical and Materials processing: Principles and Technologies, Vol. II High Temperature Metals Production, Eds. F. Kongoli, K. Itagaki, C. Yamauchi and H.Y. Sohn, TMS, 2003, pp. 25-39. U. Kerney, The Nordenham Pb Smelter and its Challenges, International Science and Technology Conference: Lead Metallurgy Achievements and Problems Conference, Legnica, 2010 (preprint). M. Sibony, N. Basin, J. Lecadet, R. Menge and S. Schmidt, The Lead Bath Smelting Process in Nordenham, Germany, J.E. Dutrizac, J.A. Gonzalez, D.M. Henke, S.E. James, A.H.-J. Siegmund (eds.); Proceedings of the Lead-Zinc 2000 Symposium, part of the TMS Fall Extraction & Process Metallurgy Meeting, 22-25th October 2000 (Pittsburgh, USA), pp. 319-330. A.D. Besser, V.V. Guriev, M.A. Reuter, R. Matusewicz and A.S. Glinin, Lead Processing Using TSL and Electric Furnace Technology, International Secondary Lead Conference, Venetian Macau Resort Hotel, Macau, 2009 (preprint). J. Wood, J. Coveney, J. Hoang and M.A. Reuter, Small-Scale Secondary Lead Processing using Ausmelt TSL Technology, International Secondary Lead Conference, Venetian Macau Resort Hotel, Macau, 2009 (preprint).